Taking a page from Bridgerton’s book, Dangerous Liaisons is a steamy period drama in which love affairs and scandals are the name of the game. Intended as a prequel to the classic novel of the same name (which got an Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich), the series follows Camille (Alice Englert), a prostitute, who falls head-over-heels for the dashing Valmont (Nicholas Denton). He promises her marriage and her own happily ever after; but she soon realises that deceit and treachery are what he loves most. After seeking out assistance from another woman Valmont has wronged to get a spot in Paris’s aristocracy, Camille makes it her mission to wage war upon her ex-lover.
The production wastes no effort in constructing its 18th-century Parisian setting. The grandeur of a candlelit opera hall and rain-drenched cobblestone streets have as much attention to detail as the powdered wigs and fancy shirts that the cast wear. This is one of those shows where everything is so meticulously assembled that one could pause an episode at any moment and be presented with an image that could be hung on a wall, the cinematography is that extraordinarily exquisite.
However, despite the show’s presentation, Dangerous Liaisons is unfortunately a tediously dull affair complete with seductive dialogue capable of making anyone wince. Englert gives a remarkable performance, but even her captivating presence isn’t enough to make the melodramatic script interesting. Likewise, the opening episodes move at such a break-need speed that it becomes difficult to keep track of the barrage of scandals being thrown at viewers in every other scene. No matter how complex the levels of deceit get, though, the series is more concerned with getting straight to the racier scenes. How naked (and often) the characters get, doesn’t make them any more engaging.
Whereas Laclos’s novel is a grand tale of revenge and betrayal which takes aim at the French nobility, this serialised prequel doubles down on the seduction and melodrama in the hopes they’ll be enough to centre a whole series around.
Dangerous Liaisons is released on Lionsgate+ on 6th November 2022.
Watch the trailer for Dangerous Liaisons here: